And They Were Wombmates

Brooklynn and Ben Rawski at their high school graduation, June 2018.

Eva Brattain

Oh my god they were wombmates! My twin sister and I constantly nag each other quoting the above Vine posted by (Ig) @mattsukkar, adding our own twist to it. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have a twin, then you’ve come to the right place. The following paragraphs include insight from three different twins, and although the three of us have lived our entire lives with a twin and don’t know what it’s like to not have one, this is our best attempt at sharing what having a wombmate is like.

Brooklynn Rawski, first-year kinesiology student here at Oregon State University, opened up about her experience as a twin.

Eva Brattain: “What’s your twins’ name?”

Brooklynn Rawski: “Ben Rawski.”

Brattain: “What’s it like having a twin of the opposite gender?”

Rawski: “I find that him and I don’t get into arguments that much, but we have a really close bond and we’re really witty with each other. He’s just a built-in best friend.

Brattain: “What was being a twin like growing up? Did people compare you with each other?”

Rawski: “We never really got compared, I think it’s because we’re opposite sex, but I compared myself to him just based off of school. He did better in school than I did. But no one else really compared us.”

Brattain: “Would you say you liked having a twin growing up?”

Rawski: “Ya. I’d rather have him than a younger or older sibling. We go through life together and we just experienced it different ways.”

Brattain: “What’s one thing you wish people knew about having a twin?”

Rawski: “That twin telepathy is real. Him and I have really shown that several times. We’ll be thinking the same thing and then say it. We know when the other one is hurt or upset, and we know what to do to comfort them and all that. We know how to help each other.”

Brattain: “What’s one thing twin-related you wish people would stop asking you?”

Rawski: “I would like people to stop asking opposite sex, fraternal twins ‘Are you guys identical?’ because no! Obviously not! It’s so dumb.”

Brattain: “Anything else you’d like to include?”

Rawski: “Just because they’re in the womb together doesn’t mean they’re the same person. They’re their own person and they have their own personality and you can’t treat one how you treat the other just cause they’re twins. Build your own relationship with each.”

The next person I interviewed was my own twin, Alexa Brattain.

Eva Brattain: “What is it like to have me, a fraternal twin of the same gender?”

Alexa Brattain: “Comparisons! I feel like I have to live up to your best qualities. If you’re good at something, I feel like I have to be just as good if not better. It’s very competitive. [We get] lots of judgements, like ‘who is the bad twin?’ and ‘Who is the good twin?’.”

Eva: “What was it like being a twin growing up? Did people compare you with me?”

Alexa: “It was nice, cause like you would help me with my weaknesses and I would help you with whatever you were having trouble with. Together, we were an invincible iconic duo. We have such different strengths that together, we have the power of an old married couple but if we were Marvel superheroes. I [also] always had someone that was there, so f I was scared to go somewhere because I wouldn’t know anyone, for example camp, I knew you would be there so it was kind of comforting and I was less anxious.[Having a twin] also kind of stunted my figuring out who I am as an individual.”

Eva: “Can you elaborate?”

Alexa: “[People would ask] ‘who’s the smarter one?’ and all that. I feel like it’s a constant competition, and extended family would just give us one gift, for the both of us and say ‘You can share! This is for the twins’, but like, we’re two separate people!”

Eva: “Is twin telepathy real?”

Alexa: “No! It’s absolutely not real. I just think that knowing someone and being close with them, you pick up on their habits so you might guess what they’re thinking and doing because you know them so well.”

Eva: “Did you compare yourself with me? How did this affect your own mental health?”

Alexa: “I was scared of people liking you more than me, even in the family. If a cousin would hang out with one of us more than the other and the remaining twin was just third-wheeling, I would wonder what I did wrong and why they liked you more. What did you have that I didn’t?”

Eva: “Has having a twin made it hard for you to feel as if you have your own identity?”

Alexa: “People don’t use my name a lot of the time. They just call me ‘the twin’ and it makes me feel like I’m less-than others. I’m a person and want to be treated like a person. I also never really had to venture out because if I had trouble doing something, you would do it for me, and if you had trouble doing something, I would do it for you, so we never had the chance to do it and grow ourselves.”

Eva: “What’s your favorite part of being a twin?”

Alexa: “Having a built-in best friend, and knowing you’re gonna be there for me whether you like it or not. As a twin, you kind of always have someone.”

Eva: “Least favorite part?”

Alexa: “The pressure society puts on us, [especially] the comparisons. I don’t feel like I’m treated as a person. I feel like we’re treated as a package, and that’s not good for building self-esteem and for finding yourself.”

Eva: “What’s one twin-related thing you wish people would stop asking you?”

Alexa: “‘Who’s Zack? Who’s Cody? Which one’s the f***up and which one’s the goody-two-shoes?’ Why can’t I be a combination? Why can’t I be my own person? Let me live in some peace please!”

I asked myself the same questions I asked Brooklynn Rawski and Alexa Brattain, and compiled a list of key points to explain what the twin-life is like. Having a twin is something most people don’t get to experience, but the three of us are lucky to have been blessed with. 

We weren’t forced to go make our own friends. Having a twin is having a built-in best friend. I never had to go to summer camp all alone or sit alone at lunch. I always had someone. But growing up with a person to go to summer camp with meant that we didn’t have the opportunity to grow and branch out ourselves, which is a huge part of learning about yourself and your own identity. I felt like I was only one half of a person rather than being my own individual.

We are constantly being compared to one another. I have often been asked questions such as: “Who is the evil twin?”, and “Which twin is better?”. Neither of us are evil! Neither one of us is better than the other! We are two separate people who happened to have been born only two minutes apart from each other. I’m not better than my twin, I’m just different from her, and vice versa.

We compare ourselves too. Whenever any cousin or friend would take a liking to Alexa, I felt discouraged, like I needed to change the way I was so a cousin or friend to like me too. I felt like I had to be just like my twin for anyone to like me, so I would try and be just like her rather than exploring who I am. 

Being a twin takes extra work for my twin and I to find our own identities. All of the above examples made it so hard to figure out who I was, which is already a hard enough thing to decipher. Having a twin on top of that makes uncovering your identity extra hard in my opinion.

Having a twin is hard, but I wouldn’t change it. Although it has been one of the hardest struggles in my life, it has also been one of the best gifts. I’ll never know what it’s like to grow up with the entire 24 hours of my birthday to myself. I’ll never know what it’s like to go to summer camp all alone. I’ll never know what it’s like to live life without being compared to my twin Alexa. But, not only do I have a sister and a best friend who is my age, but I get both all in one person.

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